Gia poured a third glass. Her cheeks were flush from the alcohol. “We should set up some rules.”
Lily lifted her glass. “To not sleeping with the bridal party.”
I almost choked on the champagne I’d just sipped. Did she know about Nick and me?
Gia nodded. “That goes without saying. Don’t flirt or sleep with anyone in the wedding party. At least during the time leading up to the wedding and the wedding night.”
My chest was tight, and I couldn’t draw in a deep breath. She had to know. Why else was she bringing it up? Yet she wasn’t looking at me.
Sophie ticked off her fingers. “And don’t sleep with the vendors, that includes the musicians, the caterers, and our suppliers. It would be awkward.”
She’d recently reconnected with her high school sweetheart, Mark, so she didn’t need to worry about the rules affecting her.
Gia groaned. “Definitely don’t make that mistake. I carefully cultivated relationships with various vendors, and we don’t want anything to interfere with business when we’re just getting started.”
The only vendor we used who wasn’t in the room was Harrison. He owned a wedding supply company, so we didn’t need to store our own furniture and linens. As a bonus, he stayed to help us move whatever we needed.
Gia took another swig of her champagne. “And while we’re on the topic. No sleeping with the competition.”
I reached for the champagne bottle, offering her a refill. I hoped she drank enough to forget the conversation in the morning.
“Who counts as the competition?” Sophie asked.
Gia’s eyes widened.
Returning to my seat, I said, “I think Gia meant the vendors who host weddings and retain on-staff wedding planners.”
Gia nodded. “In this area, no one else is offering wedding planning services. Our main competition are resorts and hotels that offer a one-stop shop. They don’t offer a personalized experience. It’s just a monopoly for the vendor. And most of the time the wedding planners on staff aren’t versed or experienced in weddings.”
Gia was most likely referring to our biggest competitor, Chesapeake Resort. The owner, Silas Sharpe, was a b’dillionaire and oldest of four brothers, all successful in their own right. Gia mentioned that Silas seemed to have radar whenever she met with a large client. He’d swoop in and steal them away. It drove her crazy, or, maybe I should say, he drove her crazy.
I’d let Gia go on long enough about these rules. It was time to rein her back in. “I thought these rules were to protect the business. We might’ve gotten a little off track.”
Gia grabbed a pen and a paper. “Let’s write them down before we forget.”
Lily and Sophie nodded like it was the best idea. I must have been the only one who was sober at that point and questioning the intelligence of writing the rules down. If anyone found them, it wouldn’t look professional.
Gia held up a finger. “Number one—no sleeping with the wedding party. Best man. Groomsmen. None of them.”
My heart picked up its pace. Was she talking about me?
“How about no hooking up at the wedding,” Sophie offered helpfully.
“Or before,” Lily added.
Gia was frantically scribbling on the piece of paper, her tongue peeked out in concentration.
“No cavorting with the enemy,” Gia murmured as she stared at the paper.
“I think it was no sleeping with the enemy,” Sophie said seriously.
Gia looked up at her and nodded. “No sleeping with him. No matter how much you want to.”
I opened my mouth to speak but then snapped it shut. Everyone was tipsy and letting loose. Even if it sounded personal. Like Gia wanted to sleep with someone. It couldn’t be Silas. She hated him.
The champagne was our way to celebrate our first wedding planned together. Tonight was a chance to let loose. The list was all in good fun. Surely, it wasn’t enforceable.
Even if Gia wanted to enforce it, I’d slept with the groomsman before it was made. If the truth came out, hopefully, it wouldn’t affect my business arrangement with the women.
Gia tapped her pen on her chin. “I should type this up and make it official.”
I nearly groaned out loud. A headache formed at the base of my skull, threatening to turn into a full-blown tension headache.
When Lily looked like she was about to agree, I interrupted, “I’m sure that’s not necessary.”
I’d stopped drinking as soon as Gia mentioned creating rules and lists. Now, I was certain I was the only one thinking clearly.
Lily and Sophie were sprawled on the couch, scrolling through their phones, Gia sat ramrod straight in her desk chair, and I was perched on the edge of the stiff leather guest chair.
I’d been waiting for Gia or one of the other women to call me out on my indiscretion. But no one said anything, so maybe I was safe. For now.
Gia’s gaze lifted to meet mine. “It wouldn’t be good business for you to sleep with the clients.”
I let out a laugh. “It’s really the bride and groom who are the clients. And no one is going to sleep with them. That would be awkward and unprofessional.”
Gia shook her head. “I still don’t think it’s good form for us to get close to the family or guests.”
“That’s reasonable,” Sophie said.
Easy for her to say, she was in a committed relationship. None of it even applied to her. But surely, it wasn’t retroactive. It was a one-time mistake. I’d never see Nick again. It would never come up. As long as no one saw me leave with him.
Hopefully, Nick hadn’t said anything to his cousin, Ethan, or his wife, Savannah, especially since we were all friends. That was really the only other way anyone would find out. And Nick didn’t seem like the type to kiss and tell. I sucked in a breath. Unless he wanted to find me. He’d asked me to stay.
“Oh, I almost forgot to mention. A woman came into Petals the other day with invitations she designed. She asked if she could display them in the shop,” Lily said.
Gia set the list aside to focus on her. “How were they?”
“Honestly? They were amazing. Very detailed and beautifully done.”
“What did you say?” Gia asked.
“I took a sample and told her I’d think about it. I thought we should discuss it together. I think it could be an amazing collaboration.”
She pulled the sample—blue writing on thick card stock—out of her purse and handed it to Gia.
“This is amazing,” Gia murmured as she held it up so we could see. There were flowers embossed on the top and the script was beautifully done. “She handwrites the calligraphy?”
“She does,” Lily said.
“This is such a nice touch. I think the couples would love that an artist prepared their invitations. Does she have a price list?”
“So far, everything she does is custom.”
“Do you think she’d be willing to offer a few as packages the couples could pick from and have them done?”
“I don’t see why not,” Lily said.
“Talk to her, tell her our plan, and ask if she’d be willing to meet with us. What’s her name?”
Lily reached over to hand Gia a business card. “Everly Long.”
“I love the idea of expanding if others have a service they can provide. Is there anything else we need to look into? Any other collaboration that would be good?” Gia asked, looking at each of us.
When there were no other suggestions, Gia continued, “I think we might need to think about hiring more wedding planners. I only see the business growing. By spring, we’ll need assistance.”
I was happy she’d moved on from the list to something business-related. While she discussed posting an ad for potential wedding planners, I turned the paper toward me, so I could read it.
Number 1: No sleeping with the groomsmen.
She’d added “best man” next to it circled and underlined. My stomach twisted. She must be serious about that one.
Number 2: No sleeping with your coworkers.
That was easy. The only male vendor we worked with was Harrison, and I had no feelings, other than friendly, toward him.
Number 3: No sleeping with your best friend.
I definitely wasn’t sleeping with my best friend. I didn’t even have a best friend, much less one who was male.
Number 4: No sleeping with a wedding guest.
That one felt eerily similar to what I’d done.
Number 5: No sleeping with your friends’ brother or brother’s best friend.
Was that one personal? Gia had a lot of brothers. I looked at her. She was using her hands to gesture wildly to talk to Lily about flower arrangement centerpieces. Most likely a by-product of the alcohol she’d consumed. Even sober, I suspected her brothers were off-limits. Thankfully, that one wouldn’t be a problem for me.
Number 6: No sleeping with the enemy.
Then she’d slashed out the word enemy and written competitor over it. I couldn’t help but think number six was personal for her. I remembered her flushed face when she was talking about Silas Sharpe being our number one competitor.
His resort on the water was wildly popular. He advertised a relaxed experience where his staff took care of every detail. There was even a restaurant, spa, and salon on-site.
That couples preferred his resort rankled Gia. She didn’t like to lose. Especially to someone like Silas, who, she’d mentioned on several occasions, was cocky.
Sophie moved to stand next to me, reading the list over my shoulder. She lowered her voice. “She can’t be serious about this?”
“Oh. I think she is.” The champagne I’d managed to drink was fizzing in my stomach.
“I’m glad I don’t have anything to worry about. I’m happy with Mark.” Sophie smiled softly.
“Hopefully, she forgets about it.” I left the paper on my lap, wondering if I could hide it or make it disappear.
It was a silly list you wrote when you were drunk. Of course, it’s an unspoken rule that you shouldn’t sleep with a member of a wedding party or even a guest when you’re working.
“Where did the list go?” Gia asked, moving things around her desk, presumably looking for it.
Should I hide it?
Sophie raised her brow at me.
I sighed, sliding it across the desk. “I was reviewing it.”
Gia held the list up. “I need to find a good spot for it. Not on the wall or anything crazy like that.”
I exchanged a look with Sophie. I couldn’t believe she’d written it, much less was considering keeping it.
Gia pulled out a drawer on her desk that was more like a flat piece of wood and carefully taped it on there. “There. That way I can’t lose it or forget about it.”
She gave each one of us a measured look.
I shifted uncomfortably on my seat. I couldn’t lose my spot in this business arrangement. I struggled to bring in paying clients year-round. I needed this.
It was imperative Gia never find out about Nick. In theory, that should be easy because he didn’t live there. I’d never seen him around town before, so it was unlikely I’d see him in the future.
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Even kindergarten sweethearts need a nudge- or twenty- from cupid.
Meadow Fields shared her precious lollipops with Judd Johnson at recess when she was six years old. Judd gave Meadow her first kiss right by the swings. But his family moved away after that fateful year, and Meadow moved on. When Judd returns home twenty years later and runs into Meadow, the attraction is still there.